I’ve made the decision to suck!

Workout notes Perfect weather (50’s, dry)
1.4 mile jog to the bottom of Bradley park. 1.23 mile loop in 10:10 (disappointing; 8:15 pace), 5 minute jog, 5 x hill with walk/jog recoveries (one every 6:30 or so); 2:08 was the first, 2:06 was the last. I went hard enough to have to walk some of the recovery.
then jog to Markin (about 6.5 miles total, or 10.4 km)

Pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (got them; barely); rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 170, 6 x 160 (very weak)
incline: 8 x 135 (weak, ran out of gas)
3 sets of 10 each (machine) rows (110), pull downs (130), military (90 each arm) on the Life machines.

Note: running hard prior to lifting takes something out of me.

Anyway, yes, I enjoyed the workout. It was a gloriously pretty day. But my athletic performance was pretty bad.
So I have choice to make: I can either do it and suck, or not do it at all. :-)

March 31, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training | 1 Comment

How good at sports are you? About measuring human performance relative to others…

Workout notes Swimming.

500 very slow; Mike and Jason beat me.
5 x 100 fist/free on 2:10. slow; first 2 were 2:00;then I migrated to 1:55 then to 1:50 for the last 2.
Then 3 x 100 drill (fins), 200 free:
3:31, 3:29, 3:27
100 drill
150 side (stayed with a slow free style swimmer for 50
50 back

It was ok; started bad but got better when I focused more.

Human performance relative to age: who you are compared to makes a difference

Yesterday, I noted that, by the measure used in this calculator, my age adjusted performance at the bench press is better now than when I was at perhaps my peak fitness.

The numbers: 1982, I weighed 190 and could bench press 260, which was 1.26 times my body weight; the minimum for a rating of “excellent” was 240 pounds.
This year (2015), I weigh 180 and can bench press 185 (I got 200 last year), which is a ratio of 1.03 which rates as “excellent”; the minimum rating of excellent for a male my age and body weight is 155 pounds. So, by this measure, I rate higher now than then, and that surprises me.

Now when it comes to, say, the 5K run, using this calculator, I am worse now than as a younger man. I ran about 19:00 as a young man and 19:53 as a 38 year old; last year’s best (at 54) was 24:42, which grades to 21:08 for 20-29, and 21:50 as a 38 year old. Note: my 54 year old time grades to 23:00 as a 45 year old (I ran 23:46) and 23:44 as a 49 year old (I failed to break 24 that year).

So, why do I rate higher in lifting than in running? One reason might be that perhaps my build is better suited for upper body strength than running. It could be that I don’t run as much as I did when I was younger, but my lifting hasn’t changed that much.

But I think that something else is going on.

The running calculator is from a “sport” page; there you are graded against the best in your age group. That is, you are graded against the most extreme outliers.

Now as a young person, outliers were mostly determined by inherent athletic ability. Yes, I know that the athletes have to train like demons, but the training is so that they can beat other outstanding athletes and not to beat me; witness the world class marathoner who ran 2:14 on 35 miles a week of running.

Now when you talk about age, you have to factor in not only genetic ability for the sport, but also the aging process itself; we do NOT age at the same rate, have the same level of accumulated injuries, etc.

So when you are compared to the best in your age group, you are being compared to people who are “double outliers” (ability, aging..)

On the other hand, I think (not sure) that the bench press calculator compares you to the AVERAGE MALE of your age group. The outliers get averaged out, so to speak.
As one ages, that is a very different comparison; as one ages, one can maintain a reasonably good score, relative to the average, by merely staying active when so many others do not. That will not help you vs. the outliers.

Side note
I noticed that my age group place in the Steamboat 15K has gotten worse. One factor: there are now fewer people in my age group; there aren’t many 55 year olds who would just enter a 15K running race on a whim (“I wonder how I’d do”); the only ones there are the seasoned runners. That isn’t true for the younger age groups.

Evidence: This past year, there were 43 people in the male 50-54 age group. I placed 38’th (.88). There were 60 people in the male 35-39 age group. My time would have placed me 46’th (.76). That is, AT MY CURRENT AGE, I placed higher in the 35-39 than I did in 50-54!!!! The reason, I think, is the level of competitions; only seasoned “over 50 years old” runners even attempt it.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | running, swimming, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment body is not kidding me

I ran my 6.4 mile course (hilly, just over 10K) from the house to the university gym. I had the pleasure of a woman on the XC team being in front of me from the entrance to the Park on Parkside and I beat her to the RCC easily! Ok, I did take my usual Columbia Terrace to Maplewood cut whereas she did the “to University to Main”; so I did about 1 mile in the time she did about 1.5.

My goodness…I am slow.

Then to the gym.
pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (yes! Back to that level) rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 1 x 180 (not that easy), 2 x 170 (huh?) 6 x 160 (depressing) (rotator cuff)
seated, supported military: 2 sets of 12 x 50 dumbbells, standing 10 x 40 dumbbells
pull downs: 3 sets of (7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low)

I was weak but…well…never mind. I am tired of excuses.

I keep having this “well, that switch is going to flip and those 7:30 mpm training miles and 10 x 225 in the bench press is going to come back”, but that has not happened and, to be honest, hasn’t happened since the late 1990s.

But here is what is a bit bizarre: the last time I was about this weight (as a young man; about 190 lbs. vs. the 180 I am now), I could bench press 260. I got 310 as a 230 pound man.

I used this calculator.

So, 260 at 190 pounds in my 20’s grades as 1.37 (percentage of body weight) or 20 pounds above the minimum “excellent” range.
Now I get 185 at 180 pounds at 55; this grades at 1.03, which is 30 pounds above the minimum “excellent” rage (155 for someone my age).

So, when one takes age into account, I am actually…in age graded terms..stronger NOW than I was then. That is just bizarre because it sure doesn’t feel that way.

March 26, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training | , | 1 Comment

Accepting weakness

Workout notes: a bit different than what I’ve done recently.

First: short weight session.
Pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 7 and 3 with short rest. Rotator cuff
incline bench: 2 sets of 10 x 135, 4 x 145 (rotator cuff)
military presses: 2 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbells standing,
barbell: 6 x 85, 6 x 75 (almost no rest between)

then to the pool for 1800 yards (1 mile, or 1.6 km)
250 free
5 x 25 back, 25 free
5 x 25 fly, 25 free
50 side

2 x 200 on the 4 (3:45, 3:42)
100 back
200 in 3:43
100 back

My right shoulder got slightly achy, hence the off strokes.

Weight: 181.5; felt somewhat bloated…(TMI: I was correct..found that out later)

So, it was a decent workout.

Weakness Every since Junior High, I’ve always taken a bit of pride in my strength. No, I was never “D-1 football player strong”…not even close..not even “D-3 football player strong”. But from my Sophomore year onward: at 190 pounds I could bench press 260 and at 230 I could do 310 (lifetime PR). I could do 11-12 reps with 225 (PR is 11 with 230 as a graduate student in 1986.)

So I wasn’t anywhere near a power lifter. But I WAS stronger than average.

That isn’t even remotely the case now. Example: I was playing a game of H-O-R-S-E with my wife’s grandson. He is a college student; big guy (6′ 4″, burly). He tried one shot while sitting down well beyond the 3-point line and at least hit the rim.

I couldn’t do that; I lacked the strength to reach the rim. That was humbling. I used to take pride in being stronger than most.
That isn’t true anymore. That is tough for me to accept, but I have no choice.

I can’t say that I am discouraged as I keep going to the gym, swimming, running, walking, and I have no plans to stop as long as my body allows it.
But it does bother me, as does my finishing around the median (just a few places faster) at a campus 5K run, which featured mostly student runners (39/83). Yes, I was just getting over a virus, but had I run like I did this past weekend, I would have only been 35’th. Yes, I am 35 years older than most of them…but still that had me doing a slow burn.

(BTW, I won the game of H-O-R-S-E; I took a lot of medium “old man” shots and made a high percentage of those)

March 23, 2015 Posted by | running, swimming, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Age is NOT just a number…

Screen shot 2015-03-20 at 2.24.33 PM

This is complete nonsense. a 26:45 5K is incredible….FOR SOMEONE THAT AGE. To put in perspective, the 10K world record is 26:17. Or put it another way, *I* routinely run faster than that, though I am 33 years younger. The latter fact is important.

Had this guy taken up running earlier in life, well, his performance grades to a 12:48, which is just a few seconds slower than the current world record. So, again, his performance IS world class for someone that age.

Age matters.

I am only 55 so my running that time is a “well, at least you finished; maybe you need to train more” sort of time.

Today’s workout: swimming and lifting.
500 yard warm up. 10 x 100 on 2:10, alternating fist/free (1:52-1:55) then 8 x 50 on the 1:10 (48-51; mostly 50 plus or minus 1) then 1:42 100. 200 cool down.

Then I went upstairs to lift; very different crowd than the college crowd. There WAS a millenial checkins his smart phone between sets and a few women, but mostly retirees …a LOT of gray.
pull ups: 4 x 10, 2 sets of 5 with rotator cuff stuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 6 x 155, 6 x 155 (weak) hip hikes
super sets: pull downs (10 x 137.5), rows (10 x 45), machine bench press (90 each arm), 3 sets each.

That took 48 minutes. Weight: 180.5 before the swim, 178.7 afterward.

What I noticed: it takes me just a few seconds longer to catch my breath between sets than it used to. Time is relentless and it takes its toll. I have no plans to give into it though.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | swimming, weight training | | Leave a comment

My personality quirks…

Workout notes
Weights: went reasonably well.
Pull ups: 15-10-10-10-10 (best in a while); hip hikes, rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 2 x 180 (stronger), 8 x 160
military: 2 sets of 10 x 50 seated, supported (dumbbells, 50 each arm), 1 set of 10 x 40 dumbbell standing, 10 x 90 (each arm) machine
pull down/row super set: 3 sets of 10: rows 110, pull downs 130

Then a hilly 4 mile walk to the top of Cornstalk and back; untimed.

I am coming to understand that I have a quirky personality; this post is part of that. No, this isn’t some underhanded attempt to brag about my “decent but nothing really special” intellect; after all many of my real-life friends have roughly the same degrees and level of intellectual accomplishment that I have (modest). There is a reason I am not tenured at MIT.

There are people a heck of a lot smarter than I am who don’t have this quirk.

Here is the quirk: the “intellectual” part of my brain simply doesn’t turn off; it runs all of the time.
Evidence: when I see a meme and show it even a tiny bit of attention, I critique the factual accuracy of it. I don’t immediately see (or even seek) the message, which may well be in metaphor form.

Same with religion: if I hear or read a creed, I want to know what the terms mean and how I can check the accuracy of the claims. It is the same for a religious text; for that reason religion simply doesn’t work for me.

How this hurts me: I am not very agreeable and I am terrible at giving encouragement. For example, if someone says “I am training for even X; do you think I can do it?” my answer is usually of the form “from my experience, x percent of people of your age, sex and current abilities have been successful”. Or if someone gets all weepy because they finished a FOUR MILE RUN (say, at 12 minutes per mile); I can’t turn off the part of my brain that says “for someone of your age and health, that is an extremely mundane accomplishment; it represents progress for you but is certainly nothing to boast about.”

I doubt that will ever change and this means it will always be hard for me to get along with people.

That is, I am a bit like this guy:

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Personal Issues, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Common memes/statements I have no patience with (why I don’t fit in)

First things first: I DO respect this lady’s attitude and accomplishments; both are impressive.

But I have little patience at how others present such things.

1. At times, there appears to be an attitude of “this septuagenarian can do it therefore SO CAN YOU” in some of these presentations. That, of course, is nonsense.
Think of it this way: when I was in my 20’s, there were guys my age and size who could bench press 500 pounds (days prior to bench shirts) and other guys who could run a marathon in 2:10 or faster. NO ONE said “if they can do it, so can you.” Reason: the people who could perform such feats are understood to be outliers (the Steven Hawkings of athletics).

Guess what? Outliers exist among the senior age groups as well, and this lady is one of them. Another example: I had a 70 year old friend who ran a 45 minute 10K; that is abnormally good for that age.

Now if you want to say “you can probably get stronger than you think that you can”, THAT would be honest.

2. While she is indeed strong for her age, sex and size, she cannot outlift me, nor should she be able to. So please stop saying such things; that is condescending. She is incredibly strong for a woman her age though and her age graded performance would blow mine away, easily.

3. And I’ve seen memes that talk about “feeling old”. Guess what: if you are habitually active, you WILL feel your age as time goes on and your performances will show your age, period.

In my case: I found that I had to reduce the volume of my training and I had to be a bit more specific about it. That is, if I trained for, say, the 5K run, my long distance stuff would suffer more than it did a decade ago. I have to be choosier if I want to “age group improve” in one event or another; moving up in the marathon hurts my 5K; getting better in the swim hurts my running, etc. I also need to be more deliberate about strength training (weights, hill work, faster swim intervals, etc.)

March 18, 2015 Posted by | running, sports, weight training | , , , | 1 Comment

Building back up..

Today: ran a relaxed, hilly 7 mile run in 1:13:03 (51:56 for the 5.1 mile portion); high 40’s and dry (overcast a bit). It was fine.

Then I went to the Riverplex and lifted:

pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 1 of 8, 1 of 7 (rotator cuff)
military: 2 sets of 10 x 40 (standing, dumbbells) 1 set of 9. I couldn’t swing 50’s while sitting. Super set with:
dumbbell bench: 1 set of 10 x 70, 2 sets of 10 x 65. Couldn’t start the second set with 70 (not enough rest?)
super set rows (3 sets of 10 x 45) and pull downs (3 sets of 10 x 137.5)
1 set of machine military: 10 x 180 seated (90 each arm).

I just got tired too quickly; when I got home I weighed 178.5 after drinking and breakfast.

I had some minor soreness in the right calf/Achilles area; my guess it was the fin sets yesterday.

Bradley Women’s Basketball
The season came to a disappointing end on Thursday night when the Braves lost to Loyola 67-55; of course Loyola got quickly eliminated by a strong Wichita team the next day.
Bradley shot 26.7 percent for the game and 13.8 percent in the first half; no I am not making up these numbers. The defense came up with 31 turnovers but could not convert; I was excited when the game got to 6 points with 3 minutes left but BU could get no closer.

It is a pity that they reverted to early season form against an opponent that they had defeated twice before.

Today I watched Wichita State beat Northern Iowa 56-42 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. BU is just miles away from being at the level of either of these teams.

March 14, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training | | Leave a comment

Weird anxiety while running

My workout went fine. But …well..

Weights: pull ups, 4 sets of 10, then one “almost 10″ (8 then 5-10 second rest followed by 2 more), hip hikes and Achilles.
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 170 (weak), 8 x 155 (weak), rotator cuff
incline: 8 x 135 (weak)
military (3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell, standing), rotator cuff
pull downs: 2 sets different machine (130), 1 set 7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 (machine)
I did some back exercises as well.

Note: though the gym was sparsely populated, there were still a few students there, and many (most?) bring their smart phones and just thumb away at it between sets. That is the downside to using the university gym.

But then as I went to run (outside, good day for it)…I got pretty anxious for the first 3-4 minutes; I almost turned around and went home; it was almost a “I can’t do this” panic attack.
I reminded myself that I merely had a recent virus for a couple of weeks and that prior to that, I wasn’t exactly an invalid.

I forced myself to get going and 3-4 minutes later, I was fine. The run went reasonably well (though hardly fast) and on one stretch, I even turned to look at a woman running in shiny red tights.

So I finished fine..but wonder what the anxiety was about. It is almost as if I’ve become addicted to the treadmill and the serenity of just zoning in on my effort.

March 12, 2015 Posted by | running, Uncategorized, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Worthless and weak!


That’s me: “worthless and weak”

Pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 8 then 5. Note: I rested with McKenzie back exercises and rotator cuff
incline bench press: 8 x 135, 5 x 135, 6 x 135. Not enough rest between sets (rotator cuff)
military press: dumbbells, 2 sets of 10 x 40 standing (weak)
super set: 3 sets of rows, 3 sets of pull downs, 2 sets of machine military, sets of 10

110 row, 130 pull down, 90 each arm, military.

I was tired. Then running: 21:20 2 miles treadmill.
Track: 9:00, 8:49, 8:40 (lane 2) 26:30, 27:36 for 5K, 7 lap cool down walk.

While running: one young woman didn’t want to let me pass at first but eventually relented. That was amusing.

Given how weak my weight workout was, the run was a pleasant surprise, though not a great performance. I suppose my upper body muscles have lost more conditioning during my lay-off.

Now to get caught up academically.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training | | Leave a comment


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